The Rovers arrived at Mentone Reserve with a fair bit of banter and chit chat going on that 11 year old lads tend to engage in, but upon gathering for the pre-match the boys had put their collective game face on ready for battle. With the reset button pressed for the remainder of the season, we reflected on what we had learnt about ourselves and the general competition in the season so far. We highlighted aspects we want to continue to do well (i.e. work rate and effort, pressure to the opposition) as well as the areas for improvement (i.e. forward line functioning). The main focus of the day was about forward line effectiveness through maintaining our structure and aiming for deep forward entries to our leading targets, to achieve much needed scoreboard reward for our effort.
The Rovers started the game with real intent gaining early clearances, and directed the footy into space where Kyle and Oli H were able to control the ball and provide deep entry into the forward line. When Ben S kicked the first of his 2 goals within the first 5 min of the game, the Rovers had clearly come to play (the second goal unfortunately leading to a game ending injury for Ben). With Lucas competing hard in the air bringing the ball to ground for his crumbers the forward line was looking dangerous. Defensively we had Luke reading the play well off HB taking a number of intercept marks, as well as Nico to playing to instruction by guarding space providing great support to an injured Josh B giving his all in the last line of defence. The endeavour and intent was typified by Kai who was a lone hand in a 1 on 3 contest on the far side, but managed to force a boundary throw in and in doing so preventing a dangerous forward entry. StB/M through quick ball movement and hard running from their midfielders started to propel the ball forward. With too many defensive kicks remaining in the danger zone, STB/M manage to put some damage on the scoreboard. After conceding a third goal late in the quarter, we came into the 1/4 time huddle disappointed to have surrendered our early ascendancy, but buoyant about having the wind advantage going into the second stanza.
When it began, the ball was played in our half for most of the quarter, where we generally held our structure to have our most effective quarter for the year. Arch quickly found himself in the thick of it providing a contest across half forward, and when he marked and immediately drove the ball long, Jacky G was able to read the flight of the ball over the back and converted for his team. A second crumbing goal for Jack immediately followed, and when Jenson snapped truly out of congestion in the deep pocket putting his contender in for the for Nissan goal of the week, the forward line was clearly functioning the best it had been all year. This was further demonstrated through Alex playing to instruction remaining deep in the forward line where he took a solid one grab pack mark, and with confidence slotted it through the middle. When StB/M got the next clearance was Maxie providing his usual marking guile across half back, soon followed by Louis with his one-hand-half –pirouette party trick putting in his contender for the Nissan Mark of Day.
Kicking against the wind in the third Q we decided to push the extra man back, setting ourselves the objective of restricting the opposition to zero goals, whilst trying to score 1 or 2 ourselves. Upon conceding an early goal in the quarter, the boys quickly relocked ourselves in for the battle as the physicality from the StB/M started to step up. Maso in response led by example with some physicality of his own towards the ball, as he patrolled the centre square taking marks both defensively and on the attack for his team. Josh D was also proving to be a handful both in the air and at ground level, and with Josh N continually presenting himself at each contest winning valuable possessions for his team, the Rovers response was emphatic. Once again a late goal was conceded, as we attempted fend off a late surge form STB/M, but held a slender lead going into the last with the wind in our favour.
The first goal of the quarter would prove crucial, and it was provided by Elliot who took a strong mark and showed great poise to direct his kick to the left goal post allowing for the wind. StB/M weren’t finished yet and snared a quick answer keeping them within reach. They kept surging forward only to be met by Jake T who took a number of intercept marks and hit the ground running to rebound for his team. Jack C took an important intercept mark near the coaches box and delivered the ball to HF that led to a strong mark from Ted, who capped off a fine performance with the last goal of the match, putting the result beyond doubt.
After the dour struggle the week before where me managed just the one goal, it was great to see the forward line functioning and more damaging on the scoreboard. A great team effort to relaunch our season 2017, and whilst the match was marred by a late quarter incident, I was particularly proud of how our boys initially responded to the situation, and then simply got on with shaking hands to enable a joyous victory song to be sung back in the rooms.
Ash & Sean
Here’s the boys singing the song!